Collaborative Networked Learning(CNL)
An Implemented Guide
Educational Services Research and Development Group
Date Issued: 31-October-1
Charles Findley, R&D Project Leader
Digital Equipment Corporation
Collaborative Networked Learning
Collaborative Networked Learning (CNL) is that learning which occurs via electronic
dialogue between self-directed co-learners and learners and experts. Learners share a
common purpose, depend upon each other and are accountable to each other for their
success. CNL occurs in interactive groups in which participants actively communicate
and negotiation meaning with one another.
Important changes motivate the focus on CNL in this resource. Three
factors underlie the thinking in the resource.
1. CNL is sound educational practice.
Researchers and educators have contrasted collaborative activities with
two other categories- competitive and individualistic. Competitive
activities, for example, include those in which only one person can
win, or where learners compete for grades, rank, or status, rather
than when all members focus on achieving mastery or competence.
Individualistic activities, for example, include working in isolation
with no interaction with others, or when a learner interacts only with
a self-paced manual or CBI, rather than when all members share
ideas with each other.
The overwhelming conclusion of research in the goals of learning
environments is that collaborative, cooperative goal directed activities
lead to higher achievement. Overall higher achievement translates
into higher productivity.
2. CNL is sound business practice.
Collaborative Networked Learning Overview
Several major successful implementations of CNL directly involving
Educational Services, Digital or Digital hardware and software products
provide real-life examples of the guidelines in use. These are summarized in the
COLLABORATIVE NETWORKED LEARNING OVERVIEW
CHAPTER 1 JUSTIFICATION OF CNL
1.1 CNL IS SOUND EDUCATIONAL PRACTICE.
1.2 CNL IS SOUND BUSINESS PRACTICE.
1 .3 COLLABORATION IS NECESSARY FOR LEARNING IN THE
1.4 CNL LEARNING MODELS CHECK LIST
CHAPTER 2 PLANNING
2.1 DETERMINING PURPOSE
2.1 .1 Purpose defined by organizer
2.1 .2 Purpose defined by the group
2.1.3 Purpose defined by on-going need
2.2 DETERMINING GOAL STRUCTURE
2.3 CREATING AN INTENTIONAL LEARNING GROUP
2.4 SELECTING A CNL FORMAT
2.5 SELECTING MEDIA FORMATS 2-5
nchronous and asynchronous 2-5
2.5.2 Computer-mediated communication (CMC)
188.8.131.52 Remote,distributed networks • 2-6
2.522 Local computer networks • 2-7
2.5.3 Audio Conferencing 2-
184.108.40.206 AudJographte • 2-8
2.5.32 Freeze-frame video • 2-6
220.127.116.11 Computer Audiographics • 2-0
2.5.4 Videoconferencing 2-11
2.6 PLANNING CONSIDERATIONS CHECK LIST 2-12
CHAPTER 3 LAUNCHING THE COLLABORATION 3-1
3.1 MAXIMIZING PARTICIPANT INVOLVEMENT 3-1
3.1 .1 Context creation 3-2
3.1 .2 Practical actions for the moderator or organizer 3-2
3.2 DEVELOP RULES AND GUIDELINES FOR PARTICIPANTS 3-3
3.2.1 Absolute Rules and Legal Regulations 3-3
3.2.2 Guidelines 3-4
3.3 CHECK LIST FOR COMMUNICATING WfTH PARTICIPANTS 3-7
CHAPTER 4 PARTICIPATING IN COLLABORATIVE LEARNING
4.1 ROLE OF THE FACILFTATOR
4.2 SYSTEM SET-UP
4.3 MODERATING ON-LINE:A SOCIAL INFRASTRUCTURE
4.3.1 Structuring the Interaction
4.3.2 Maintain lively, focused discussion
4.3.3 Attend to process details 4-5
4.3.4 Moderating Audio Teleconferencing 4-9
18.104.22.168 Pre-conferenoing coordination • 4-0
4.3.42 Teleconferencing Techniques • 4-0
22.214.171.124 Provide text or visual support • 4-1
4.4 PROVIDING FEEDBACK IS A SHARED RESPONSIBILITY OF
4.4.1 Eliciting and contributing feedback 4-1 1
126.96.36.199 Feedback on the process • 4-1 1
4.4.1 2. Feedback on the content messages • 4-1 2
4.5 CREATING A CONTEXT FOR LEARNING 4-12
4.5.1 Mutual exchange of trusting and trustworthy messages
are essential to building context. 4-1 3
4.5.2 Personal Risk In Collaboration 4-14
4.52.1 Anonymous messages • 4 — 14
4.52.2 Private messaging • 4-15
4.6 PARTICIPATION CHECK LIST 4-16
4.6.1 Facilitating messages for understanding 4-16
4.6.2 Providing relevant examples to learners 4-17
4.6.3 Paraphrasing for confirmation of understanding. 4-1 7
4.6.4 Providing feedback to co-learners 4-18
4.6.5 Providing feedback on group process 4-1 9
APPENDIX A CNL SUCCESSFUL IMPLEMENTATION MODELS A-1
A.1 DIGITAL MANAGEMENT EDUCATION PRE-COURSE PREPARATION
VIA COMPUTER CONFERENCING A-1
A. 1.1 Goals A-3
A.1.2 Participants A-3
A. 1.3 Results A-3
A.1 .3.1 Description of the project • A-3
A.1 .3.2 Usage, satisfaction and impact on
students • A-5
A.1. 3.3 Recommendations and guidelines • A-5
A.1. 4 Conclusion A-8
A.2 "ACHIEVING EFFECTIVE C0MMUNICAT10N":INTEQRATINQ
CLASSROOM WITH COMPUTER CONFERENCING A-10
A.2.1 PILOT GOALS A-11
A.2.2 PARTICIPANTS A-12
A.2.3 IMPLEMENTATION RESULTS A-12
A.2.3.1 Description of the collaborative network
pilot* A-12 A.2.3.2 Usage,
satisfaction and impact on
students* A-1 4
A.2.3.3 Recommendations and guidelines • A-1 6
A.2.4 CONCLUSION A-
A.3 PURPOSE DRIVEN CONFERENCtNO-UNIVERSITY COLLEGE
A.3.1 Goals A-21
A.3.2 INVOLVEMENT OF THE WESTERN BEHAVIORAL
SCIENCES INSTITUTE A-22
A.3.3 THE CONFERENCE TOPICS A-23
A.3.4 THE PARTiaPANTS A-24
A.3.5 TECHNOLOGY INFRASTRUCTURE A-24
A.3.6 SOCIAL INFRASTRUCTURE: CHAIRMEN, EXPERTS AND
A.3.7 PROGRAMME A-26
A.3.8 SOCIAL FACTORS SEMINAR A-26
A.3.9 INVITATION TO POTENTIAL PARTICIPANTS A-26
A.3.10 BRIEFING SESSION A-26
A.3.1 1 TECHNOLOGY INSTALLATION A-26
A.3.12 CONFERENCE FORUM AND TRAINING SESSION A-27
A.3.13 MID-TERM ASSESSMENT A-27
A.3.14 END OF CONFERENCE MEETING A-28
A.3.15 POST-CONFERENCE A-28
A.4 ELECTRONIC SEMINAR— MULTI-MEDIA COMPUTER-BASED
NETWORKED LEARNING ENVIRONMENT A-28
A.4.1 Enrollment and audience A-28
A.4.2 Format A-28
A.4.3 Key benefits A-29
A.4.4 Equipment requirements A-30
A.5 WGBH ON-UNE A-30
2-1 CNL Technologist
Collaborative Networked Learning Overview
Much work in the information age enterprise involves collaborative,
team oriented tasks. Learning workers share information with one
another in order to accomplish common tasks in a small group.
Professionals share information with each other, and learn something
about each others specialization in order to reach consensus on a
common problem. Assembly line workers have increased productivity
when workers learned from each other how their different individual
parts of the task fit together to produce the whole. All of these
different learning workers are engaging in activities which involve
Life-long learning in the workplace is becoming a necessity rather
than an ideal. The need for collaboration is great and will continue.
By facilitating collaborative methods of learning, we could help
workers acquire individually and collectively the rapidly, changing
knowledge required in the high-tech workplace.
3. Collaboration is a condition of learning in the information workplace.
While the worker in the industrial era factory learned how to ma-
nipulate objects and memorized actions, the worker in the modern
organization learns how to think, learn and apply information to a
• Workers need to engage in activities that allow them to approach
problems from different vantage points, testing out
as8umptions,and redefining meanings,i.e.creative thinking in
order to develop new viewpoints.
• Workers need to engage in the sociaI,coIIaborative exchange of
ideas in order to pose hypothetical problems, general hypotheses,
conduct experiments and reflect on outcomes. Basically, workers
are learning in groups to make meaning out of information. Not
only do workers need to make meaning out of the information
but in order to actually perform their jobs they need to be able to
share that meaning with others.
This guide is to serve as a basic resource for individuals planning,
implementing, and participating in Collaborative Networked Learning
(CNL) communities as co-learners. The general guidelines provided here
draw upon published research and from experience with successful
applications of different CNL models.
Justification of CNL
Collaborative Networked Learning (CNL) is that learning which occurs via electronic
dialogue between self-directed co-learners and learners and experts. Learners share a common
purpose, depend upon each other and are accountable to each other for their success. CNL
occurs in interactive groups in which participants actively communicate and negotiation
meaning with one another.
CNL is a new way for workers to learn through collaboration with other workers
locally and around the globe. Remote, widely dispersed workers are learning
collaboratively around the world with non-resident experts (teachers) without
leaving the work site. One important way of bringing experts together with
learners is through on-line electronic learning environments. In some instances
these distributed networked learning environments operate as text-based
alternatives to in-person classes, in other instances they operate in conjunction
with video or audio teleconferences, and in still other formats as continuations
of in-person classes. A variety of formats and media combinations are being
developed to facilitate the exchange of information and collaborative learning
among groups of individuals.
Justification of CNL 1-1
1 .1 CNL is sound educational practice.
Researchers and educators have contrasted collaborative activities with two other
categories — competitive and individualistic. Competitive activities, for example, include
those in which only one person can win, or where learners compete for grades, rank, or
status, rather than when all members focus on achieving mastery or competence.
Individualistic activities, for example, include working in isolation with no interaction
with others, or when a learner interacts only with a self-paced manual or CBI, rather
than when all members share ideas with each other.
The results of on-going research in this area, may help us clarify the
desired outcomes of any of our learning environments. David and Roger
Johnson 1 have conducted research for the past twenty years on the effects
and effectiveness of these three goal structures on learners. In 1981 the
Johnsons conducted a review 2 of 122 research studies from 1922 to 1980
relating to collaborative, competitive, and individualistic goal structures.
The overwhelming conclusion was that collaborative, cooperative goal
directed activities lead to higher achievement. Overall higher achievement
translates into higher productivity.
In the collaborative learning environment no one loses. Learning
becomes a win/win situation for all of the participants. In general, the
interaction process in collaborative groups promotes the discovery and
development of higher quality strategies for reasoning than does the
individual strategies found in competitive and individualistic learning
situations. 3 In competitive situations, learners devote energy to winning
by succeeding at the expense of others rather than everyone working
together for the higher achievement of all the members of the group. On
the other hand, in individual situations, learners only achieve at their
level of capability, whereas in a collaborative group the synergy allows
each one to exceed his native capability. When applied on a broad scale
collaborative learning methods could facilitate a higher level of of
achievement for all workers in an organization.
Johnson, David and Roger Johnson. 1976. Learning- Together and Alone tCooperation,
Competition, and IndividualixationEnglewood Cliff, N.J.;Prentice-Hall
* Johnaon, David at al. 1981. The affacta of Cooperation, Competitive, and Individualistic Goal
Structures on Achievement: A Met* -Analysis." Psychological Bulletin, 89, pp. 47-62.
* Alfle Kohn provides a comprehensive discussion of these issues in two recent publications. Kohn, Alfle.
1987. "Its Hard to Get Left Out of a Pair," Psychology Today ,Vol 21.no 10, pp. 52-67. and Kohn, Alfle
1986Jfo Contact/The Case Against Competition. Boston, Houghton Mifflin Co.
1-2 Justification of CNL
1 .2 CNL is sound business practice.
Much work in the information age enterprise involves collaborative, team oriented tasks.
Learning workers share information with one another in order to accomplish common
tasks in a small group. Professionals share information with each other, and learn
something about each others specialization in order to reach consensus on a common
problem. Assembly line workers have increased productivity when workers learned from
each other how their different individual parts of the task fit together to produce the
whole. All of these different learning workers are engaging in activities which involve
Organizations, such as Digital, according to George Huber 1 will be
qualitatively ,radically different from those of previous organizations. One
significant factor in today's organization is the amount of available
knowledge, the growth rate of knowledge, and the shorter useful life of
information. Consequently, life-long learning in the workplace is
becoming a necessity rather than an ideal. Increasing amounts of time
and energy are being spent to make sure that workers have the up-to-
date skills and knowledge required to do their jobs. At the same time
workers are being required to spend more time learning to stay on top of
their jobs, they are becoming more specialized in their knowledge. With
specialization comes the need for collaborative interdependence in order to
perform the complex tasks of today's workplace.
The need for collaboration is great and will continue. By facilitating
collaborative methods of learning, we could help workers acquire
individually and collectively the rapidly, changing knowledge required in
the high-tech workplace. We could also foster collaborative methods of
information sharing to help groups make meaning out of information as
the basis for solving some of our difficult tasks.
1 HttlMT, CUorg*. 1984. "!%• Natur* and D«rign of Po«t-Indu«trial Organization*, Manafmt«at
8cUoo«,Vol 30, pp. 928-961
Justification of CNL 1-3
1 .3 Collaboration is necessary for learning in the information
While the worker in the industrial era factory learned how to manipulate objects and
memorized actions, the worker in the modern organization learns how to think, learn and
apply information to a task. In essence, today's worker is learning meaning rather than
just rote procedures. Even the worker in today's automated factory must connect
meaning to the data appearing on the terminal screen. Drawing on the work of
educational psychologist Lev S. Vygotsky, Dr. Gloria Schuck 2 outlined two basic
conditions for learning in the high-tech workplace:
1. Workers need to engage in activities that allow them to approach
problems from different vantage points, testing out assump-tions,and
redefining meanings,i.e.creative thinking in order to develop new
2. Workers need to engage in the sociaI,coIlaborative exchange of ideas in
order to pose hypothetical problems, general hypotheses, conduct
experiments and reflect on outcomes.
Basically, workers make meaning out of information when they are encouraged to engage
in creative mental activities and have an opportunity to test out their hypothesis with
other individuals. 3 Not only do workers need to make meaning out of the information
but in order to actually perform their jobs they need to be able to share that meaning with
' Schuck, Gloria. 1966. "Intelligent Technology, Intelligent Workers: A new Pedagogy for The High-IWh
Work Piece," Organisational Dynamic* Vol 14, pp. 66-79.
* Eventually we will move into an era when intelligent expert systems will become a part of the on-line
collaboration. At the prevent time, expert ayatem* are not partner* in the collaboration but aopport
tools. Collaboration would require interactire negotiation of meaning and responsiveness, i.e. a dialog.
Research ia still formative in this area but in general would require sophisticated interfaces such ss
natural language interface* and responsiveness to the messages of the learner rather than passive
viewing of machine messages.
1-4 Justification of CNL
1 .4 CNL Learning Models Check list
The following items might serve as a check list to help the users determine the appro-
priateness of CNL learning models for their needs. The more closely the characteristics
match those in the check list, the more likely CNL an appropriate approach for the
situation. The CNL learning model* involves aspects of the following:
• Topics are unstable or being created
• A problem or question has no clear answer yet
• Learners are more often self-directed than other directed
No one person has the answer — it is dispersed or hidden within a group
The answers are obtained by groups of workers in cooperation who
may be widely distributed
An unstructured or networked approach is usually taken
Knowledge needs to be captured, synthesized.generated, filtered and
Involves asynchronous or synchronous interaction among learners who
may not be co-located.
checklist pr*par«d by L*«li« Wittman and Mark Gill, from DIS/HRM
Justification of CNL 1-5
2.1 Determining Purpose
Tb make Collaborative Networked Learning (CNL) experiences focused and efficient,
clearly define and announce the purpose. Several basic purposes are described below.
2.1 .1 Purpose defined by organizer
The organizer/ facilitator of CNL might defined the purpose in advance of
securing participation. In this type of CNL, participants would join the group
based upon a desire to share in accomplishing the pre-defined purpose. The
purpose could be very specific such as: " The members of this group will
prepare a marketing strategy for value added services for DSN;" or more
general, such as: The members of this group will learn about and share
information regarding value added services for DSN."
2.1 .2 Purpose defined by the group
The purpose might initially be more loosely defined, based upon the prior
knowledge of the selected group of participants such as, "the members of
this group will pool their knowledge to develop a long-range adoption plan
for CNL." Or, "the purpose of this CNL forum is for experts and novices
to share their experiences moderating a
learning forum." As the group learns more they will continue to refine
Learning in the context of problem-solving is a example of a more
general group purpose, where the specific learning and outcomes
are refined based upon the goal and prior knowledge of the invited
2.1 .3 Purpose defined by on-going needs
The learning purpose in these situations is open-ended and on-going. The
group with a broadly defined learning goal will determine specific
operational purposes based upon current needs. Frequently, existing
learning groups define their purpose based upon a long-term mission. On-
going learning within a particular domain and group is motivated by the
rapid rates of change being experienced in our society and the work group.
The group which starts with an open purpose may from time to time want
to refine their purpose,based upon new information and current mission,
for two reason: (1) to know what they have accomplished and that the
experience was worth the effort (2) to establish criteria for completeness, or
When one speaks of purpose-driven CNL, it does not necessarily imply
either a closely defined initial purpose or an open purpose. It implies that
as part of the experience the group develops a shared purpose and that
their interaction is focused on accomplishing that purpose. The purpose-
driven interaction criteria distinguishes CNL group activities from Bulletin
Board Systems (BBS) in which individuals post and access the latest
available information in an area.
While the group has a stated work related purpose such as those
mentioned earlier, it is also likely to fulfill a social functional for the
members. It is important that both the stated purpose and the personal
purposes of the members be considered as the group interaction continues.
2.2 Determining goal structure
In a CNL group the members share a cooperative goal structure. Cooperative structures
contract with two other structures — competitive and individualistic.
• A cooperative goal structure is the desired norm for CNL.
According to Johnson and Johnson 2 members see a positive cor-
relation among group members' goal attainments- that is, they
perceive that they can achieve their goal if and only if the other
members with whom they are linked obtain their goal.
For example, when a group lifts a heavy object or members of a
software development team integrate and debug a new application, all
members experience the success.
• Competitive goal are not as effective for CNL.
In a competitive situation, there is a negative correlation; members
perceive that they can obtain their goals only if other members fail to
obtain their goal.
• The individualistic goal structure is inappropriate for CNL.
In contrast to these two group goal structures is the individualistic
goal structure common in many learning environments. The
individual is rewarded for his/her own achievement and the
achievement is generally unrelated to that of others.
CNL groups are based on a shared cooperative goal structure. As work
occurs more and more in teams requiring the combined expertise of
different members, the cooperative goal structure of CNL is more likely
to support the overall goals of work group process than highly
competitive or individualistic approaches.
1 Johnson, D. W. & Johnson, R T. 1987. f .Miming Tog»Ui«r and akm*tCoop«ratiT«, co*»p«titiT«, and
in4ivida*li»tic fearniagttnd si) EngUwood Cliffs, NJ: Pr*ntic*-Hall.
2.3 Creating an Intentional Learning Group
Participants in CNL establish an intentional learning group 1 electronically with a
cooperative goal structure. The intention of the members is to engage in the learning
process together. The members commit to the group and the achievement of a mutually
There are two primary categories of intentional learning groups:
1. Existing groups, teams and work groups decide that they need to
learn and can accomplish their learning goals together ,and
2. Individuals organize groups and invite others to participate based on
a defined and shared learning goal.
2.4 Selecting a CNL format
Three basic CNL formats have been successfully implemented.
1. All Electronic in which participants accomplish their learning all on-
line. The electronic form could be text-based, audio or video col-
laboration or any mix of media. The Irish Aquaculture Conference is a
example of the all electronic structure. Regular audio and video
conferences for sharing ideas,debriefing and developing strategies are
also common examples of this form of collaboration.
2. Before or After an in-person class or group meeting, such as the
electronic pre-course for the Digital Management Educational
Seminar," Managing Small Projects. Before a face-to-face meeting,
electronic interactions provide an opportunity for all participants to
review and share basic background content prior to real-time
interaction. After an in- person meeting, the group can continue the
interaction and address new issues as they occur.
I UM the term "intentional" to auggeet that the participant* "belong" to a group to achiere a purpoae and
that it ia their "Voluntary" intention to accompliah that purpoae. CNL are different from natural group*
or eommunitiea eince they often eziat only through the electronic world.
Mixed mode in which participant* attend class or listen to broadcast
video in conjunction with interacting on-line. The Communications
Skills seminar provided learners an opportunity to interact with each
other between face-to-face meeting!. The Field Service Electronic
Seminar and WGBH On-line integrate video broadcasts,text based
materials, and computer conferencing.
2.5 Selecting Media Formats 2.5.1
Synchronous and asynchronous
Synchronous communication involves a real-time connection through media channels for
two way video, two way audio, or text-based computer conferencing. These "distributed"
environments can be a cost effective method for helping workers share information and
collaborate regularly, without the time and expense of travel. Asynchronous
communication does not require that participant* be available in real time. It is basically a
store-and-forward communication strategy; individuals unable to schedule a "get
together" can still collaborate, using asynchronous media such as E-mail and computer
It is important to match the purpose and overall goals of the group with
the appropriate media. The table below summarizes key distinguishing
Table 2-1 : CNL Technologies
Neither Time nor
In Space Space
V " mail
Freeze*frame video over public
Text based "notes"
PC with keyboard and freehand
graphics with audio conferencing
Video networks with two-way
Group Support S W in LAN Graphic messaging
Table 2-1 (Com.): CNL Technologies
Neither Timm nor
In Tint* In 8pac« 8p«c«
In many on-going situations it will be economically possible and feasible to mix media of
interaction to the overall purpose,budget, and current stage of interaction.
2.5.2 Computer-mediated communication (CMC)
The use of computer networks to facilitate the learning process is part of
a larger effort which focuses on the use of the computer as a human
communications medium. Interaction at the present time utilizes text
and graphics to facilitate both simultaneous and asynchronous collabo-
ration. Future projections call for all media types to be integrated at a
networked workstation, within the next five years.
188.8.131.52 Remote,dlstrtbuted networks
Text-based computer conferencing software has been in use since early
1970 on time sharing computers. They are now available through ex-
tended, distributed networks with software such as Digital's VAXnotes.
Elaine Kerr and Roxanne Hiltx, explain: "...computer communication is a
new medium for building and maintaining human relationships. It is
faster and cheaper than alternative methods for linking geographically
dispersed people in working groups,but more importantly, it tends to
expand greatly the human and information resources to which one has
constant and convenient access. 1
Digital's primary products in this area for private communication is El-
mail, and for group communication is VAXNotes. Third party computer
conferencing software is readily available for group communication on
VMS; the most notable is Caucus marketed worldwide by MetaSystems.
Workers who need to engage in on-going learning want to find the most
efficient means to achieve their goals. In a CMC network, learners
determine their own time, place, and pace of learning activities. The
primary distinction, and advantage, is that interaction does not have to be
conducted in real time or space. In essence, the electronic network becomes
a 'place' in the minds of the users.
184.108.40.206 Local computer networks
The use of computer networking is not restricted to distant communication, but
can also enhance the information access, structuring, and sharing by co-
located,face-to-face groups. Each individual is connected as part of a local area
network within the room. The network would also provide immediate access
to information not physically present in the room. Groupware (software for
group enhancement) aids the participants in the structuring and sharing of
Software tools that support the learning process are being developed to assist
the work of small groups of individuals. Users of these tools are usually all
together in the same physical space such as a classroom or conference center,
but they could be spread out in a factory work unit, as well.
2.5.3 Audio Conferencing
Voice-only networking is the simplest,least expensive and perhaps the most
widely used form of electronic networking. The benefits of audio networks
include cost-saving in travel, particularly where periodic, limited duration
collaboration is required. In many cases, individuals only need to share
limited pieces of information in order to reach understanding. However,
the bits of information may be owned by a number of widely distributed
individuals. Or, the individuals who need the information may be widely
separated from the one or two experts in
the field. When two-way communication of information among a group is
necessary for gaining understanding, the ease at which an audio only
network can be set-up makes it an ideal, cost effective media for sharing
information,immediateIy as soon as the need arises.
Audio conferencing service is avail internally through the DIBS (Digital
Integrating Briding Service) for DTN users. For interaction among
customers worldwide AT&T offers regional and international bridging
Until recently each individual participant had to be available to interact
at the same time as all other participants. Recent developments with
voice-mail systems. which operate much like telephone answering
machines,are beginning to remove this restriction for participants.
However, for voice-mail systems to be a useful technology for us, we
will need to develop ways of storing,aocessing, and forwarding large
quantities of digital audio files.
Audiographic networking technology involves adding a graphic or visual
component to audio channels. Two technologies have potential uses for us
in supplying cost-effective audiographic collaboration: freexe-frame video
and computer controlled graphics. Audiographics offer the advantages of
two-way audio interaction discussed above, plus the added advantage of
visual,graphic information which can be used to support the audio
interaction. Depending upon the content of the information, the visual
component may be critical. For example, when complex diagrams,
designs, or pictorial information is necessary for interaction,
audiographic systems are an effectiveness expensive collaborative
medium than full motion video.
2532 Fr»«ze-fram« video
Freeze-frame video is less costly than full motion video for remote
collaboration among a number of locations. Freeze-frame video is useful
for transmitting not only two-dimensional illustrations to support
information sharing, but it can also transmit pictures of equipment and
prototypes. This media offers the possibility for transmitting 3-D images
at low cost for group collaboration. It also has the added
advantage of transmitting images of the participants which help to create
a feeling of contact which audio alone does not offer.
Freeze-frame video systems can do anything for users that full-motion
video can do, except of course transmit motion. Systems use public
telephone networks to link geographically dispersed locations.
Essentially, freeze-frame conferencing equipment freezes a frame of video
information, from any analog source such as a camera or videodisc,
codes it into digital data, stores it in memory and transmits it over
remove dial-up lines at 4,800 BPS . At the other end, the digital data is
transformed back to analog and displayed on a screen. Initially, each site
would need to be equipped with cameras, monitors, printers, and audio
systems. The price of operation,however, is only the price of two long
distance phone calls for the duration of the session.
A comparatively less expensive system, Photophone,has been tested
within Digital by the Telecommunications Group. At the present time
Photophone, marketed by Vidlel, is the Digital preferred internal vendor.
It operates over a single line between locations and thus blanks while
video freeze-frames are being transmitted.
Groups in central engineering who need to collaborate on product design
are using their systems on an on-going basis to cut down on travel time
and cost. While it is useful for two location sharing of graphics and
visual images, the basic model affords little opportunity for multi-location
At the present time, Digital is currently developing a board level product
for transmission over the E-net for use with workstations. Commercial
release of the product is expected in early FY 91. It will theoretically be
possible to create small distributed groups using E-net channels.
220.127.116.11 Computer Audlographict
Audio conferencing with computer graphics and computer interaction can
link a number of locations together for sharing graphical information as
well as carrying on audio interaction among the participant*. By adding
the capability of audio to a text and graphic network, the lose of fidelity of
interaction can be reduced. Computer audiographics
has been successfully used to aid collaborative learning in a number of
IBM currently uses a system which in many respects is similar to freeze-
frame video, except it is integrated with an IBM PC -XT. Graphics and
text pages are prepared in advance of a session, called up and transmitted
with a 3-5 second delay during the interaction. The IBM system is
reported to support interaction over normal telephone networks to link
multiple geographically dispersed locations.
AT&T currently conducts multi-location audio conferencing in conjunction
with personal communication graphics and text files for employee sales
training. AT&T through a cooperative marketing agreement with OP-
TEL in New York began selling the equipment and service in late 1988.
The same system was also used with favorable results at Harvard last
fall for a semester intensive calculus class.
The supporting software developed by OP-TEL of New York links the OP-
TEL Telewriter II PC audiographic units or MS-DOS compatiable
computer with AT&T's Alliance Teleconferencing Service. The service can
provide computer based synchronous audio based networking for up to 59
Basically, computer audiographic systems operate like an electronic
blackboard which allows all users to create keyboard and hand drawn
graphics. These graphics can be stored, transmitted, and annotated by
any of the learners on-line. The drawing space is not shared but
transmitted by each user. The voice channel and the data channel share
the same circuit simultaneously. The use of such system has been
primarily for one-way presentation with questions. The technology could
easily be used for more collaborative learning and sharing of information
Interactive audiographic systems such as these can provide learning
opportunities at the desktop computers of widely dispersed learners.
Travel time is eliminated and the cost of information sharing is reduced.
The «yatem currently operatee on IBM and MS-DOS compatible equipment; however OP-TEL haa
•xpreawd intereet in developing aoftware for uae with low-end Digital equipment.
2.5.4 Video Conferencing
There are currently two basic versions of video networking. (1) Point-to-
multipoint broadcast by closed circuit television provides two-way audio
interaction with any number of remote sites. Digital Video Network is an
example of this type of network. Programs are broadcast through a
satellite uplink to an increasing number of Digital sites which have
receiving downlinks. The network can easily be expanded to include
temporary broadcasts to commercial hotel sites, or become part of a global
network for international exchange. (2) Two-way interactive video
conferencing using T-l digital telephone lines. At present high fidelity
interaction can be achieved through portable video conferencing which
transforms ordinary conference rooms into video conferencing facilities.
The units which currently sell for about $34K ( and decreasing with
market competition), can be rolled into an existing conference room. The
self-contained systems support two-way interactive video, audio, graphics,
and data communications. Video conferencing which once required
participants to travel to a permanently equipped conference center,or a
local hotel can occur between small groups at different locations through
spontaneously dialed connections from a keypad console.
The current technology using T-l switched digital telephone network
mirrors routine telephone service. By simply dialing, the user can
connect between two of the companies locations or to customer sites.
Regular telephone charges apply to these connections.
The Telecommunication's Business Consulting Group at VRO can assist
users in planning and using this equipment.
2.6 Planning Considerations Check list
Since CMC at present is text-based communication, it requires only a narrow bandwidth for
transmission and consequently is a low cost means of asynchronous collaboration The present
text-based nature of the interaction also reduces the fidelity, and social presence of the
interaction All of the non-verbal cues of face-to-face communication are missing. In general, as
bandwidth narrows, the medium is perceived as being less personal and affording less social
presence. These characteristics limit the acceptability, particularly by first time, inexperienced
CMC alone can definitely be an effective means of collaboration for
experienced computer users. It can also likely be efficiently employed with
inexperienced users as low-cost follow-up with any of the more expensive
options discuss here. For example, expensive high bandwidth, interactive
video could be used to establish initial contact and social presence. CMC
could then be used as a less expensive, narrow bandwidth follow-up strategy.
For groups that will be interacting over a long period of time, a face-to-face
meeting could be held prior to extended CMC activities. In other instances,
text-based conferencing could be used in combination with video and audio
networking to increase the feelings of connection among the participants over
The conferencing system needs to be tailored to the particular needs of the
group. Group are able to adjust conferencing systems to suit their own needs,
provided the initial system is sound and flexibility is accommodated. If a group
is not able to work in a suitable environment, the conference will fail
During planning ask the question: "Who needs to communicate with
whom about what", at what time and in what medium. The
practical questions include the following.
• Can participants message each other?
• Can the moderator message participants individually?
• Will the 'conference* be one conference, or a principal conference and sub-
conferences for special purposes?
• Will the conference be serial (the only ordering of comments is by time-of-
writing), or will there be a topic/reply structure (in which comments are
grouped both by time and by relevance to a 'seed' comment (like VAX
Notes)? If there is a topic/reply structure, will
it evolve during the conference, and how many and what topica will
be established at the start?
In a directed (or purpose-driven, or meeting-like) conference, will
there be deadlines within the conference for particular issues to be
resolved, or will all issues stay debatable until the end? How might
any deadlines interact with participants' ability to join the conference
over a period? Will a "voting" structure be used to establish that a
group consensus has been reached on individual issues?
Will their be a mixture of different media text, audio,and video for
different purposes at different times during the groups existence?
Will the conferencing be synchronous,reguIarly scheduled "meetings,"
or will it be an asynchronous messaging system?
Will there be sub-groups in which a sub-set of the participants
address a particular task/topic/issue?
Launching the collaboration
Engineering the group culture in which collaborative learning can occur is one major part of
the successful implementation.
3.1 Maximizing Participant Involvement*
Most successful CNL applications are characterized by high levels of
participant involvement and spontaneity. In Dr. Mary Douglas's "theory of
organizations", organizations fall into one of four categories, depending
upon the degree of structure (organizational differentiation and
bureaucracy) and solidarity (the degree of social bonding).
re High structure Loia
al, B — Armed services
and study groups
(high group culture)
At the start of CNL, participants will typically be in cell C above. The goal is to move
them into cell D.
adapted by John Gundry from seminar material dereloped with Western Behavior Science Institute
Launching th« collaboration 3-1
The practical actions to achieve this goal can be considered in three areas:
• Planning appropriate conference system (See Chapter 2)
• Context creation
• The actions of the moderator or organizer
3.1 .1 Context creation
CNL creates an electronic social environment which did not exist prior to the collaboration.
Conference organizers begin a conference by setting the tone and context for the
interaction through one or more of the following strategies:
• Kick off meeting, either face-to-face or video conference, to allow
participants to get acquainted personally and develop group cohesion,
• Distribution of decisions on the goals of the conference,
• Distribution of conference reading materials,
• Opening comments made by the moderator set the tone and ground
rules for the subsequent interaction.
It is also important to pay careful attention to the on-going communication among the
participants to help create a supportive context for the interaction. The overall context
needs to support positive collaboration.
3.1 .2 Practical actions for the moderator or organizer
• Announce the theme of the discussion so that participants can identify
• Decide on a familiar communication metaphor for the conference: is it
like a meeting, like a presentation-based conference, like a symposium,
like a seminar, like a lecture, like a classroom, like a group
encyclopedia, like a workshop, like an interview, like a newspaper, like
CB radio or a chat-line or what?
• Define the agenda of the conference: selecting an order and flow of
topics, and setting expectations about the end-state of the conference
and what participants will gain from it.
3-2 Launching th« collaboration
• Set expectations about the role, actions and workload of the moderator
and of the participants.
• Define the conference etiquette - defining acceptable and unacceptable
3.2 Develop rules and guidelines for participants
In order to minimize personal and legal conflicts it is important to develop general ground-
rules and guidelines for participants. It is particularly important from a legal stand point
when customers are involved to have these guidelines in place to protect the information
In the following section sample rules have been developed by incorporating
the suggestions of experienced moderators in the Moderators and Etiquette
on-line conferences at Digital.
3.2.1 Absolute Rules and Legal Regulations
First of all, there are the absolute rules of the conference. These spell out
the limits of what you may do through the computer medium. Each rule is
dictated by the realities of the law.
1. Do not speak badly of anyone.
2. Do not discuss the specifics of crimes.
3. Do not talk about pending or potential legal action.
4. Do not use obscene or offensive language.
5. Do not recruit or sell.
6. Do not transgress copyright laws and proprietary rights
Launching th« collaboration 3-3
The guidelines are intended to help define and illustrate the absolute rules. Please
remember that CNL is a very new phenomenon and we are all learning how it can and
can not be used. Most of what appears here is common sense. Many of you reading this
will think, at times, "Who could ever do that?". But experience over the last few years
shows that people do these things, and with the best will in the world sometimes don't
realize that they are transgressing common sense.
1. Communication norms
When discussing different approaches to a problem or issue, please be
careful to confine your discussion to the issues and not the person.
Although you may disagree vehemently with another person's
viewpoint, courteous responses are expected.
Suppose that someone makes an argument which you feel is wrong.
You could respond in any one of the following manners:
• Unacceptable: "You'd have to be out of your mind to believe that!"
• Unacceptable: That argument is stupid."
• Acceptable: ' T don't believe that."
• Acceptable: "I disagree with that argument."
There is no reason to criticize the person or to ridicule the
argument. Merely stating that you disagree and explaining why,
is sufficient. It is, of course, more politic to say that you
disagree, but it is acceptable to say that an argument or
statement is wrong, provided you explain your reasoning.
2. Criminal behavior & legal actions
It can be quite hard to determine what constitutes a crime. The best
guideline is to avoid any discussion of criminal behavior and legal
3. Inappropriate language
Avoid "cuss-words", "four-letter words" and the like. Additionally,
ordinary words can become offensive when used improperly.
4. Recruiting and selling
3-4 Launching th« collaboration
The ban on recruiting protects participants from receiving unwanted
solicitations for employment. The ban on selling applies as a general
rule when a participant is writing about something in which they
have a vested commercial interest and the purpose of writing about it
is commercial even if in addition to the purposes of exchanging
information. If,soleIy for the purpose of exchanging information, a
participant does describe a product or service in which they have a
vested interest, they must declare that interest.
Copyright laws and proprietary rights.
If participants are in doubt as to whether the material they are
writing is already copyrighted, they should not write it. This
restriction applies, however, to verbatim copying. Summaries and
revisions of material are allowed. Common sense is used to judge
whether the material is essentially a copy or a summary or revision.
The situation as regards proprietary material will be determined by
the participant individually.
Encouraging Responsible Behavior
Anyone writing in a text conference or part of an audio or video
conference should introduce themselves. This accomplishes two
things. It helps us to know each other and to take responsibility for
our behavior, and it helps the moderator know that you are familiar
with the rules and procedures.
Dealing with infractions and complaints
No matter how well-intentioned one is, being human, one can expect
to write comments here which unintentionally offend others or break
one of the conference rules. When this happens, one needs to handle
it expeditiously and with sensitivity. The following procedures are
intended to enable us to deal with the problems as quickly and with
as little fuss as possible. PLEASE follow them if there are problems.
If any person finds a conference comment objectionable, they have the
right to contact the chairman and request that action be taken.
In a text based conference this may involve
• deleting the comment and re-posting it in an edited form,
• deleting it all together,
• posting a clarifying or explanatory comment,
• a simple explanation to the objecting party,
Launching the collaboration 3-5
• withdrawal and replacement of the comment. In an
audio or video conferencing, this may involve:
• stopping the conference and discussing the issues if it can be
• scheduling a private interaction between the parties and the
conference moderator to resolve the conflict outside of the on-
3-6 Launching th« collaboration
3.3 Check List for Communicating with Participants
Previous implementators of CNL have developed the following guidelines to help
participants get involved early and stay active.
1 . Notify participants about any CNL sessions via E-mail and send the
instructions and schedule early.
2. Attend to access security.
• For text-based Computer Mediated Conferencing. using
VAXNotes establish an open,unannounced conference.
An open conference will eliminate the problems participants have
trying to gain access to a restricted conference.
Restricting a conference adds a level of complexity and increases the
potential for access problems. Participants may have difficulty
entering a conferences when the moderator has misspelled a name or
node,or if the user accesses the conference from a different system.
Unless there is critical security issue, it is simplest to run an open
conference, but announce it only to group participants. (The
facilitator needs the E-mail address for each student to send an
announcement of the conference.)
• For audio and video CNL, use different access numbers for each
conference. The telephone company will supply different numbers
for each conference so that only the participants for the particular
session can connect. Create an electronic distribution list and notify
the participants of the number through E-mail.
3. Provide simple directions including how to handle common errors and
If possible, provide a hands on demonstration of any unfamiliar
equipment for the novice user. If this is not feasible provide a clear set
of directions, and provide phone or on-line support with a designated
individual during the initial start up period.
• For text-based conferencing, provide a minimal set of instructions for
g the conference :reading, writing, uploading
Launching th« collaboration 3-7
and downloading or printing content. Also provide solutions for
common error conditions.
One difficulty which needs to be addressed in the directions is the
"node unknown" message. If the learner tries to add the
conference and the reply is node unknown they should first make
sure that they have entered the node name correctly. We would
also recommend installing the conference on a node that is short
and easy to remember, if possible. We would also recommend
using a node which has been in use for a while rather than a new
node. Since each network node has a database of nodes which it
recognizes.the node for the conference system must be in the
database. If the node is not in the database for the system, the
"node unknown" message will appear. At this point, the new
instructions should direct the learner to contact the system
manager to made sure that node 26.37, for example, is added to
the system database. It is a simple and not uncommon command
for the system manager to add the new node to the database.
For audio and video teleconferencing, make sure that each user
and each site has a set of procedures for dialing and making
access connection. The user instructions for video conferencing
should provide information on where the participants should be
positioned in relation to the position of the camera (with portable
equipment.) Also provide directions for re-establishing
connections and installing any peripheral equipment such as
speakers or additional monitors.
For computer network access, provide instructions for the
operating interface of the user — both DCL and All-in-One are
common within the VMS environment.
Several simple interface approaches have been developed for
• For terminal users,provide directions based upon DCL level
familiarity and access for the novice user. Or provide access
through the Pass Key interface to VAXNotes.
• For workstation users, provide directions for the
3-8 Launching th« collaboration
• For users of All-in-One interface provide directions which tell
then to go to "Additional Applications" on the menu where they
could type "Notes" and enter VAX Notes.
With revised directions, and/or a group of computer users more
familiar with different applications (for example technical
managers), the login difficulties will be minimal.
The moderator or facilitator needs to encourage participants to review
and react to contributions of others. CNL provides a new method for
learners to share their opinions with each other, to understand that they
have different,equally valid viewpoints on issues, and to react to each
other in a shared forum. Participants new to the medium need to be
encouraged to listen and review the contributions and react to the
comments of other group members.
5. Develop guidelines for integration of all phases of interaction with the
Learners do not want to spend much time in a class or teleconference
discussing topics which they had already dealt with in a text-based on-
line conference. They are ready to move on to new topics and exercises.
There will need to be close coordination between development and
delivery so that are topics and supporting information are closely
coordinated in the total design of the learning experience.
6. Establish deadlines for completion of structured activities.
For activities which require coordinated group activities, it is important
to create timelines for participation for each phase of the activity so that
everyone knows when each part needs to be finished.
to create timelines tor participation tor each phase ol
everyone knows when each part needs to be finished.
Launching th« collaboration 3-9
Participating in collaborative
In the past when knowledge was resident only in the expert and did not change rapidly,
we hired teachers based on their knowledge of the content and their platform skills t i.e.
their ability to transmit information to the student. While these criteria are still
valuable for success of the individual instructor who is lecturing in front of a live class,
they decrease in importance when we move into the electronic on-line environment. In
the CNL environment,Iearning through active participation is a responsibility shared by
facilitator and group members alike.
4.1 Role of the facilitator
In CNL the role of the leader" shifts from "giver" or transmitter of knowledge to one of
facilitator/coordinator Facilitation 1 involves strategies for encouraging groups of
individuals to learn with and from one another to create new levels of understanding and
knowledge. In essence the role changes to one of drawing-cut and drawing-together to
form a community rather than transmitting a pre-defined, structured body of thoughts or
I am not focusing on an individual per se but on • set of behaviors that could be provided by one member of a
collaborative team or could be shared by a number of member* over time. The term facilitator aa uaed in
thi» diacuaaion doea not imply one specific individual.
Participating in collaborative learning 4-1
The CNL facilitator carefully considers and adapts to the differences
between the familiar face-to-face environment and the networked
environment. The facilitator may be limited in the ability to "read" all of
the clues in the environment. For example,the lack of visual or verbal
clues increases the demands on the facilitator in the on-line computer
mediated collaboration. Furthermore, in audio supported networks,the
ability to identify participants and their emotional state from voice tone
alone is critical to successful facilitation. In video supported networks,
the facilitator's knowledge of the environment is determined by the
camera angle and what the participants convey within that framework.
While the many uniquenesses are important and deserve additional
research, it is important to focus on essential characteristics of facilitation
as a basic starting point.
The general guidelines here offer a check list of major areas to address.
The materials in the appendix discuss the role of facilitation in more
4.2 System set-up
One of the major responsibilities of the organizer or coordinator of CNL is the logistics of
implementing. For groups using a single media it will be necessary to be familiar with
the resources for that particular media. For organizers using a combination of media it
will be necessary to contact the groups supplying those media within the corporation.
The discussion of implementation in this guide will assist the user in the basis of CNL.
For users needing specific information about the technology and its application, a number
of resources exist.
• A detailed user's guide and on-line conferences is available for
users of the VAXNotes computer conferencing software.
• Guide to VAX Notes (AI-G98HA-TE)
• WARLRD: : VAXNOTESJNTRO (help in the U.S. A)
• RITZ: :NOTES_HELP (help in Europe)
4-2 Participating in collaborative teaming
For CNL using audio conference and video conference technology,
special workshops and consulting services are available to plan for the
purchase, lease and reservation of equipment. Assistance is available
from the Telecommunication Business Application Group within
Digital, or from commercial telecommunications and video
conferencing vendors regionally and internationally. Furthermore, the
discussion of the different media technology in the previous section will
help the coordinator make informed decisions.
4.3 Moderating On-line:A Social Infrastructure compendium 1
The following material provides a list of specific roles and responsibilities for the facilitator
of a networked conference. In general, a strong but subtle egalitarian leadership style is
appropriate for CMC. One of the first tasks of the leader is to make sure that all
participants acquire the ability to communicate in the medium. In general, it is probably
easier for participants to acquire the technical skills than the social skills to work in the
new media. Even though the group will be working on-line, a number of experts suggest an
initial face-to-face (or audio or video if distant prohibits) meeting at the outset in order to:
(Dfoster group cohesiveness; constructing friendships, interest groups and
alliances,(2)define and outline the purpose and discuss responsibilities (3) and reach
consensus on goals, directions, procedures and methods.
4.3.1 Structuring the interaction
The moderator must clarify the group's structure, making clear the
differences between private and group messages, conference comments,
and notebooks (spaces for group composition in which pages can be
manipulated, co-authoring is possible). The organizer will also want to
arrange for the use and time of other conferencing media such as audio
and video teleconferencing. "Structuring tasks" include:
• establish expectations about frequency of participation
* add and deleting participants
• consider separate conferences for separate purposes
1 Adapted from ELAINE B. KERR "MODERATING ONLINE CONFERENCES'Computer Conferencing and
Communication* Centre, Reeearch Report 20, February 1984, and Andy Feinberg A fODERATING A
COMPUTER CONFERENCES Practical Guide La Jolla, CA: Weei*m Behavioral Science* Institute, 1988,
by John Gundry, Enterpriae Deeign Group, Reading, UK
Participating in coilaborativ* teaming 4-3
spell out norms on copying, copyright and confidentiality
clarify responsibility and roles
reach consensus on expectations of task, division of labor, timetable,
in text based collaboration delete dated or irrelevant comments to
reduce information overload
in audio or video conferencing provide update and context from
clarify external constraints including relationships with other
groups and funding
begin with a minimal structure and allow the group product to
evolve over time
4.3.2 Maintain lively, focused discussion
The following suggested behaviors will help the group achieve success. Not all behaviors
need to be performed by the same person, leadership responsibilities can be shared.
• Sharpen, modify, refine and merge the discussion. Locate common
• Frequently summarize the group's progress towards deadlines and
tasks not yet accomplished.
• Ask individuals for a summary of their status.
• Stimulate and balance the discussion, keep it on track
• Give explicit feedback to individuals and to ideas, with questions,
suggestions, directions, references and implications.
• Cross-fertilize ideas; point out areas of agreement and disagreement.
• Refrain from posing as final authority - let the group decide.
• If there is a final summary as an output,develop a format for the
group to use.
Participating hi ooNaborativ* teaming
4.3.3 Attend to process details
The following behaviors will help the group get off to a good start and continue to function
productively. Leaders will need to attend to the following:
• WELCOME — Friendly and informal first message, reminding people
how they can get help. Welcome and introduce members as they join.
• INITIAL ITEMS — Offer people the opportunity to practice with informal
short introductions, including their hopes for the conference.
• DIRECTORY — Let people complete their "introduction" entries on line
for text based networking or provide background biographic statements
for audio or video conferencing.
• SOCIAL GET-TOGETHER— Consider hosting an electronic party (10-15
people) or fun get acquainted activity initially. The cost will be justified
in terms of group cohesiveness later on.
• MAIL AND TELEPHONE — Mail copies of transcripts to late arrivals,
and possibly to all members, to bring them to a common point.
Personally telephone those who have special problems with the software
or topic being discussed.
• DELEGATION — Assign and recruit volunteers for special assignments,
and get buy-in. Some people might be Issue Managers, "chairing"
discussions around one issue.
STROKING — Give positive feedback and reinforcement to both
individuals and to conference comments. Help to engender self-
esteem. Demonstrate that contributions are valued.
• TIMING — Make sure that new items are waiting when people sign on to
text based conferencing. Between audio and video group conferences,
follow-up on discussion with with communications to regular participants
• META COMMUNICATION — Encourage the discussion of meta-issues to
do with the conferencing itself. Encourage the "coffee break" type of
comment. Meta-communication helps the group function more smoothly
as a cohesive unit.
CONTROL — Manage a positive climate, awareness of the current task, the
direction of the conference, and its progress to resolution.
• Encourage members to talk to each other, not to you alone or to some
Participating in collaborative learning 4-5
Help the group maintain sight of its objectives by refbcusing
discussion when the dialog seems to be getting off track.
Encourage all members to participate so that the group is not
dominated by a few more verbal members.
NORMS — Monitor the emergence of group norms, particularly those
concerning the privacy and confidentiality of material, copying and
quotation restrictions, and copyright issues.
Consider brevity as a norm, but be prepared to reject it when it seems to
work against substance.
GENERATING PARTICIPATION— Motivating people to regularly and
actively participate can be a problem, particularly because people sign on at
their own convenience. Some mechanisms include:
Extract an agreement about the expected frequency of signing-on.
Perhaps at least three to four sessions a week.
• Allow people time at the beginning to get comfortable.
• Have a brainstorming session at the beginning to generate activity
and record a variety of issues to be dealt with in slow time later.
• Spell out and frequently repeat that active participation is
• Develop the habit of regularly monitoring the membership status
of the group.
• Use private messages as reminders and for positive reinforcement.
• Establish explicit expectations around deadlines particularly when
input or consensus is required at one phase before the group can
progress to the next.
• Make explicit responses to contributions: because there are no non-
verbal clues, it is important to be clear as to whether one agrees,
disagrees, understands or otherwise.
• Stress that the medium is informal - perfect typing and formal
prepared speeches are less important than making one's meaning clear
4-6 Participating in collaborative teaming
Use techniques to keep interaction lively and stimulating: pose a question,
bring up unexpected factual information, provide simple related games or
simulations to promote involvement, take votes or use rating forms to
Use anonymity to make an off the wall remark to stimulate discussion.
Fade into the background when appropriate.
Remind participants that earlier items are not set in concrete and are
fair game for discussion.
Consider breaking the group into sub-groups.
Don't overload: contribute about one long comment a day to text based
conferencing and facilitate rather than dominate the agenda in audio and
Keep up with who is contributing what. You may want to ask individuals
with special interest in areas to "take charge" of that area.
Don't lecture: too elaborate and too polished a sequence of comments
produces silence • use open-ended remarks.
Prompt frequently: use private messages to encourage participants to
enter the discussion, to set up debates, and to solicit suggestions.
Don't rely upon off-line materials: the conversation should be based on
what is easily available to the participants. Be clear: begin with an opening
comment that clearly states the purpose of the interaction and your
expectations, and continue to clarify these as the conference progresses.
Provide comments that weave the threads of the discussion every week or
two;weaving comments help summarize the state of the interaction and
what learning has occurred.
Set up participant interaction which does and does not include you. You
may want to facilitate independent sub-group activities which later pool
their findings with the larger group.
Take the initiative in establishing conference procedures: Procedural
discussions on-line are frustrating and time-consuming, and often distract
the group from its real purposes.
Remember that discussion leaders generally contribute one
quarter to one half of the on-line material.
Participating in collaborative learning 4-7
DEAL WITH PROBLEM PEOPLE
• The "side talker" uses only private messages. Encourage him to participate
in the public forum.
• The "heckler", the "complainer" and the "argumentative pair" can be
moved into a side conference with you while you deal with them.
• Put the "rambler" back on the topic in hand.
• Explain to the group what the "incoherent person" has been trying to
say, after checking with him first.
• Thank the "eager beaver" for his participation, but suggest that other will
have to catch up first. Connder giving him a specific task.
• The "non-participant" is the most serious problem. Try to find out why
they are not participating. Reluctance to express themselves? Discomfort
with the medium? Insecurity in expressing thoughts? Have nothing to
say? Hardware problems?
• "Laggards" need help quickly before they fall too far behind
• "Dropout*" need to be identified and minimized. Perhaps the first call is
from "technical first-aid."
• The victim of "information overload" needs help. Information overload
is the cognitive cost of the medium
Encourage use of system features such as filters, associations, keywords,
alarms, reminder files, search and retrieval capabilities, and the
Participating in oottaborativ* teaming
4.3.4 Moderating Audio Teleconferencing 1
Collaborative team work on a global scale is increasing within Digital as we enter the 1990s,
and holding team meetings via teleconference is becoming the norm. Teleconferences build
effective teams and enable efficient communication among geographically dispersed work
groups. Pre-meeting planning and teleconference techniques will build successful
teleconferences. The following guidelines will help the moderator who is engaging in
specifically in audio teleconferencing.
18.104.22.168 Pre-conferenclng coordination
• Distribute meeting agenda. Include time lines to accomplish agenda
within allotted time; build in Q&A time.
• Distribute participant list including sites.
• Distribute relevant text/print materials in advance.
• Consider having all participants call into conference from their desks
(rather than always using a speakerphone). This will equalize the group
communication flow, minimizing potential "weTthey" feelings.
22.214.171.124 Teleconferencing Techniques
• Rely on AUDIO cues in the teleconference to replace the interpersonal
• Identify yourself when you speak Example: Hi, this is Alice
Wellington at Virginia Road.
• Speak to others by name. Example: Carl, what do you think of the
new control system?
• Express yourself in terms people can visualize.
• Effective communication strategies for in-person meetings also
work in a teleconference. Inclusive meeting behavior is key:
• Begin the teleconference with a roll call of participants (equivalent
to meeting introductions). Going site-by-site, ask each participant
to identify themselves for the group.
Participating in coNaborativ* teaming 4-0
• Use printed material, meeting agenda and user list for reference.
These can be transmitted on-line prior to each group session.
• Consider appointing a group member to handle session protocols; the
session leader is freed to concentrate on session purpose.
• Acronyms or jargon often depend on context for their meaning. Spell them
out and offer explanation to prevent confusion. This is particularly true
with international groups.
Stimulate interaction from all participants in a Q&A period; the
leader or facilitator may call on each site round-robin-style.
• Limit side conversations in group-to-group teleconferences. When short
side conversations do occur, summarize the comments for all conference
participants and invite feedback.
Listening intently can bring on fatigue, loss of attention among
participants. Interaction stimulates interest. So, vary the meeting's pace.
• Limit presentations to 10 minute segments; follow with Q&A.
Consider limiting the teleconference to 2 hours maximum length for one
• Summarize, list action items, provide closure.
126.96.36.199 Provldt text or visual support
Encourage group interaction by providing text/visual materials to all
participants before the session.
• Refer to the materials during session; poll participants for comments.
Do not refer to visual materials in the room (flip charts, white board,
photos, etc.) that all members cannot see. Use fax where possible;
exchange fax numbers beforehand.
• For regularly scheduled conference calls requiring shared text or image,
consider purchasing dedicated facsimile machines, freeze-frame video or
For further information on teleconferencing systems and applications, contact
Alice Wellington at the Teleconferencing Systems Group in Digital
Telecommunications at DTK 273-5436 or OVRO.
4-1 Participating in oottaborativ* baming
4.4 Providing feedback is a shared responsibility of
As part of a face to face group individuals are constantly reading the nonverbal
communication such as gestures, facial express, voice tone,and change in body position. In
essence, the communicators are monitoring the interaction looking for feedback that says
"how things are going. " These feedback messages are both verbal and non-verbal.
Communicators become accustomed to reading the nonverbal messages for level of
understanding, agreement, or meaning that is shared among the participants in the
interaction. In networked collaborative networked environments, participants develop
special strategies for monitoring the interaction and the feedback. When nonverbal
feedback is limited as in text-based CNL, special focus is placed on providing explicit
feedback. However, participants can improve the quality of their messaging even when
they have high fidelity communication such as video conferencing by focusing explicitly on
providing feedback to each other.
4.4.1 Eliciting and contributing feedback
4.4.1 .1 Feedback on tht process
David and Roger Johnson (1987) 1 suggest focusing feedback on the
collaborative process as well as the specific content of the group effort.
• Focus observation on the interaction of the group and its own
processes. If the team is to continue to collaborate and grow as a
group, it will need to focus on itself as a group.
• Share observations on where the group is collectively and how
individuals have contributed to that direction.
• Direct group process observations to issues which will help improve
their overall productivity and satisfaction.
David W. Johmon and Rog.r T. Johnson Learning Together and AloneiCooperaiive, »nd ladfridnaJistk:
learaing.Pr*ntic*-Hall, EngUwood Cliffs, N*w J«rs*y,pps.ll2,146, 166-168.
Participating in collaborative learning 4-1 1
4.4.1 .2 Feedback on the content messages
While any participant may assume responsibility for eliciting feedback and confirming
meaning from other participants, all members of the learning group share the respon-
sibility for clarification and confirmation. Each individual participates actively to let others
know their current level of understanding or acceptance. Based on their research 2 in group
communication, David and Roger Johnson offer the following ground rules for effective
feedback among individuals:
• Give feedback as quickly as possible. Rather than allowing mis*
understandings to multiple and continue through a series of exchanges,
member check for understanding regularly.
• Focus on description and personal interpretations of messages
rather than judgment or evaluation.
• Focus on the particular message or behavior of the participant
rather than imagined personality traits.
• Offer personal interpretations such as /perceive... "or I understand... "
rather than impersonal such as " The general perception is " or "The
level of understanding is "
• Provide only the amount of information that can be meaningful at the
time,rather than a dissertation.
• Be specific and focused rather than general and abstract. It is
meaningful within the present context of the group communication.
4.5 Creating a context for learning
For groups to engage in learning together for any period of time, attention needs to be
devoted to maintenance of a context that shows acceptance and concern for the individual
well being of the members. It is critically important to focus on socioemotional context of
the interaction as well as the content.
x Much of the available reaearch on effective feedback in human communication ia baaed on reaearch in
human psychology and group interaction. This reaearch ia uaeful in understanding the basic ground rules for
facilitation. Currant reaearch into the unique characteristics of electronic mediated enrironmenta are
examining issues such aa the effect of delay and the organization and display of feedback meaaagea aa part
of a communication system. Additional reaearch into the nature of feedback and interaction in networking
learning groups ia needed.
4-12 Participating in collaborative learning
Often in networked environments, when the "clock is ticking", facilitation
on the socioemotional level is ignored in favor of getting on with the task.
Unfortunately, the task may be accomplished but the level of satisfaction
with the media and group experience are perceived low. Individuals are
consequently less willing to engage in similar networked experiences.
Rice and Love in their study of "Electronic Emotion" 1 explain that it is
perhaps the group norms, goals, and structure of the community of
participants that influence the amount of socioemotional exchange. If for
example, network use is restricted or oriented to exchanging task-
oriented information only, its unlikely that a a cohesive group will
4.5.1 Mutual exchange of trusting and trustworthy messages are
essential to building context.
When members feel that they trust each other, they will provide the vital
communication necessary for all members to achieve understanding,
higher task performance and greater productivity.
• Foster a supportative environment in which individuals trust each
other enough to express their views, to test out ideas and
interpretations about how things work or should work, to inquire
• Maintain conscious attention to the development and maintenance of
trust in a collaborative group.
• Encourage mutual exchange of trusting and trustworthy messages.
Johnson and Johnson (1986) 1 view the development of trust through
a mutual exchange of trusting and trustworthy behaviors. Trusting
behavior is defined as openly expressing thoughts, feelings, reactions,
information,ideas and resources. Trustworthy behavior is defined as
expressions of acceptance and high regard for the participants,
expressions of support for the capabilities of members, and
expressions that you are going to work with the other members of the
group to achieve the group goals.
Rio*, Ronald and Gall Lor*. 1987. "Electronic Emotion: Socioemotional Content in a Computer-
Mediated Communication Network," Communication IUe«arch,February, Vol 14, No 1. pp. 86-108.
1 David Johnson and Prank Johnaon. 1986. Joining; Together: Group Theory and Group Skills,
Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.
Participating in collaborative learning 4-13
Groups where participation is ad hoc, of short life span, or when the group is created for
limited information ezchange,Iess time and energy may be available or necessary for
building and maintaining the high level of trust which is critical for success and
participation of an on-going group.
4.5.2 Personal Risk in Collaboration
Participants share a certain degree of personal risk sending messages and providing
feedback to one another.
• Encourage and challenge members to risk reconstructing ideas and
• Support the process by avoiding personal attacks. If an individual is
constantly attacked, put down or told that they are wrong, that
person will be less likely to continue to participate. Computer based
notes conference participants generally attempt to discourage,/fa/ra'«g /
As a measure of risk taking, members of a team are constantly
asking and answering for themselves the question: " If I were to
openly express myself, will what I say be used against me." A
member of a learning group will not test out hypotheses about new
strategies or attempt to check out what has been understood, if
another member is waiting for others to make a "mistake" so that s/he
4.52.1 Anonymous messages
One way that text-based computer conferencing has developed for sharing risky ideas, is
to provide for anonymous messaging. The message can be posted with the "FROM"
portion of the message stripped off. When trust is low in a team,anonymous messaging
can provide an opportunity for individuals to address sensitive issues. For instance, an
anonymous message might help the group focus on its on 'process' at a time when no
individual member felt comfortable owning the observation.
Flaming i* • term popular among u*er* of computer ba*ed conferencing *y*tem* and bulletin board*. It
refer* to pereonal attacks, put down*, and unfair 'Valuation* of other* and their idea*. When thi*
occur* in a conferencing member* of the group will general attempt to diecourage the communication.
4-1 4 Participating in collaborative kamiog
188.8.131.52 Private messaging
Another strategy is for groups members to establish themselves as a private group. In an
intact group which is private, participants know that any messages shared will only be
available to members of the group. If a person knew that only a trusted group of
individuals would have access to the communication, then s/he would be more willing to
express ideas openly. Restricted, closed groups are useful for increasing level of trust,
and open dialog. However, the possibility of learning which might occur from open
exchange with a variety of divergent opinions is lost when the group restricts access to the
outside world. Both options are available in all forms of non broadcast electronic
exchange. The decision is made based upon the purpose and desired outcomes of the
Participating in coflaborativ* (warning 4-15
4.6 Participation Check List
A* a summary to this section of the handbook, I have included a listing of different types
of messages which facilitate learning. Each successful CNL experience focuses on the
effective use of these different messages.
4.6.1 Facilitating messages for understanding
The work of Dr. Mildred Shaw l is useful in helping to understand the
types of messages that facilitate learning. As part of her work in
personal construct psychology, Shaw hat identified different behaviors to
help individuals to extend and understand their own thinking in
networked groups. Participants need to focus on messages which
facilitate the learning process in order to:
• see the relationship of their points of view to those of others;
• bridge the gap of using different terminology for the same mental
• bridge the gap of different constructs being talked about using the
• extend their own construct systems through interaction with others;
• share with others constructs that they have found valuable; and
• investigate areas of disagreement or agreement among members of a
Shaw, Mildred. 1987. ' 'Interactive Elicitation and Exchange of Knowledge in Group Problem
Bolting," Paper preeenUd to th* Seventh International Congraaa on Perron Construct
PeyeliologyJVIemphi«,T»nneeee«, Auguat 14-9,1987.
4-16 Participating in coHaboratfv* teaming
4.6.2 Providing relevant examples to learners
The availability and accessibility of relevant examples is critical to the on-going learning
process. However, the example must be of personal relevance. Relevance would result from
one of of three conditions:
• the facilitator understands the learner and the state of processing at the
time well enough to provide relevant examples,
the individual is aware of his current state and is able to request the required
knowledge independently, or
• the individual and the facilitator negotiate a strategy for discovery or
uncovering the required information.
One key advantage of message sharing in a networked environment is that collaborators
theoretically have the possibility to draw on relevant information and knowledge from a
wide range of sources, either from other participants directly in a synchronous channel such
as through audio or video networks or through asynchronous channels such as CMC or by
accessing information stored in a database.
4.6.3 Paraphrasing for confirmation of understanding.
It is important to provide ways for checking the perception and under-
standing of the messages by all members of the group. Members often
assume that they understand the intended meanings when in fact a shared
meaning never occurs.
One useful strategy which facilitates the collaboration process is checking
understanding through active paraphrase. Johnson and Johnson 2 suggest
that the use of paraphrase for perspective-taking can advance understanding
and shared meaning in groups. This involves a process of constant checking
and rechecking understanding of individuals and the members of the group
as interaction progresses. Using messages such as "Are you saying " or
"Let me see if I can summarize, how I see your point of view," the group
moves toward shared meaning. Hie strategy of paraphrasing is designed to
promote understanding rather than debate. The following guidelines have
proven useful for facilitation through paraphrase:
• restate the other person's messages in your own words,
2 JohnMm, Dvrid and Frank P. Johnwm, p. 244
Participating in coHaboratrv« learning 4-17
• do not indicate disapproval or approval .offer advice or blame until
the other person has acknowledged the accuracy of your
• wait for a confirming message from the other person before proceeding
with discussion of the issue,and
• continue the paraphrasing process until confirmation is reached.
4.6.4 Providing feedback to co-learners
Feedback is crucial to the creation of meaning in a social context; it is the basic element of
the process which allows learners to validate their knowledge with others.
David and Roger Johnson (1987) l offer some general characteristics of
• Effective feedback is as immediate as possible;rather than allowing
misunderstandings to multiple and continue through a series of
exchanges, members check for understanding regularly.
• Effective feedback focuses on description and personal interpreta-
tions of messages rather than judgment or evaluation.
• Effective feedback focuses on the particular message or behavior of the
participant rather than imagined personality traits.
• Effective feedback is personal such as I perceive... or I understand...
rather than impersonal such as The general perception is or The
level of understanding is
• Effective feedback provides only the amount of information that can be
understood or is meaningful at the time,rather than a dissertation.
• Effective feedback is specific and focused rather than general and
abstract. It is meaningful within the present context of the group
1 DtYid W. Johnson and Roger T. Johnson Learning- Together and AlonerCoop«ratire, Competitive, »ad
IadiTida*U*tic U«rain«Pr«ntic*-H*]l, Englewood Cliffs, New J«rwj,pp«.112,146, 166-158.
4-18 Participating in collaborative taming
4.6.5 Providing feedback on group process
One often neglected aspect of feedback is the collaborative process itself. The Johnson's
suggest that members of a group who are attempting to engage in collaborative learning
focus feedback on group process as well as the specific content of the group efforts.
Participating in codaborative* learning 4-19